The Gift of Sight

My mother has macular degeneration, a medical condition which results in the loss of vision at the center of the eye. Eventually it spreads outward and causes blindness. This condition makes it difficult or impossible for her to recognize faces and read the newspaper. Although she still has enough peripheral vision to allow her to perform the daily activities in her life, there are many other limitations.

She cannot drive, nor can she check her grocery bill to ensure the charges are correct. If she uses magnification, she can read the headlines in the newspaper, but she is unable to read the tiny print in the article. Needless to say, when my dad was alive, we would often find him at the kitchen counter with her, reading the ingredients of a recipe out loud, and helping her get the right measurement in the cup. Gosh, they made such a cute couple, the memory makes me smile. πŸ™‚

During mom’s annual visit to the eye specialist, she asked him if removal of cataracts would help her vision. The doctor thought it might and immediately set up an appointment with another doctor to have the procedure done.

As the day of the surgery approached, my mother started to get nervous. She’d heard that cataract surgery could worsen the macular condition. Since she already had one eye on the verge of being declared legally blind, and the doctor was going to start with her good eye, she feared she could come out of the procedure not being able to see at all.

The surgery was performed on March 16th, the day of her 84th birthday. Mom left the hospital with cloudy vision, then fretted for the rest of the day that the cloudiness would remain, leaving her worse off than she was before. The next morning, we went to the doctor for a checkup and he reassured us that the cloudiness would pass.

That afternoon, as we prepared food for a small family gathering to celebrate her birthday, mom asked me to read the wrapping on a package of ham because she wanted to know if it was smoked. As I silently scanned the label, she started to read the ingredients out loud.

It was a miracle. She read the package ingredients, the numbers and words around the stove dials, then brought out the cookbook to see if she could read it, too. And she could. She immediately called her sister to share the good news. When I called her the next day, she had been sitting on the couch with her magnifying glass, reading the articles in the local paper.

I never would have expected the removal of a cataract to give my mom the gift of sight, but it did. Now she can’t wait to have her other eye done.

Do you know someone who might benefit from this information? If so, please pass this story along.

For more information on macular degeneration, click here.

About Sheila Seabrook

Author of contemporary romance and women's fiction.

Posted on March 21, 2012, in Blog Posts and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 24 Comments.

  1. Do you know that my husband was diagnosed with a cataract in one of his eyes and he’s only 50! They performed laser surgery and it helped. The things they can do these days! And it’s so exciting that your 84-year-old mother had the guts to have this done at her age. Some people would just “live with it” due to their advanced age. Kudos for her!

    • Wow, Patti, that’s so young. We met a man about that age at the doctor’s office whose medication has caused him to grow cataracts on both eyes. I didn’t know medication could do that. Yikes! Another good reason to stay away from the pharmacy. πŸ™‚

  2. Sheila,
    Thanks for your beautiful post. I, too, suffer from an eye disease similar to wet macular degeneration. I have always been myopic, but pregnancy caused my right eye to hemorrhage, leaving me with no central vision. Complicating matters, I have another, more common condition, that doesn’t let my brain receive mono vision. As a result, I can only hold focus for short periods of time.

    Technology–and a lot of patience–has helped me to live a relatively normal life. I still drive, but not for long distances and never at night. I use a variety of equipment to help me work and read–thank heaven for computers! But my magnifier is never far away. πŸ™‚

    The hardest part is when I am somewhere unfamiliar or in a crowded place. I’m not always able to recognize someone–even my own children–because I am using what little of my vision I have to navigate the grocery store, or the mall or the school hallways. People who don’t know me think I am snob, but I’ve learned to live with it.

    My doctors are always suggesting some procedure or other to perform on my good eye, but I’ve resisted for the exact reason your mom gave: What if it made it worse? For now, things are working for me. But if the left eye begins to bleed out, I know I’ll explore every option.

    Give your mom a hug for me! I am SO glad this worked!

    • Tracy, I didn’t know that you had this problem and I’m amazed at how well you’ve learned to cope with it. My mom says the same thing about being out and not being able to see the faces of the people around her. She, too, figures they must think she’s very stuck up. πŸ™‚

  3. Sheila, a big ole tear is rolling down my cheek. I am so happy for your mother.

  4. Sheila,
    I’m so thrilled for your mother and I appreciate you sharing her story. I worked at the Center for the Visually Impaired in Atlanta before my children came along and saw first hand how scary and sometimes debilitating the loss of vision can be.

    Thankfully, there are medical procedures and technology to help people bridge the gap. One thing I learned while working at the Center was that even a total loss of vision is not the end of the world. Scary? Yes, but there are so many wonderful people leading full lives who are blind.

    Anyone suffering from a vision issue should seek advice from a physician and from those organizations who provide assistance to those in need. They are wonderful places that take the scary factor out of visual impairment.

    • Thank goodness for the medical breakthroughs. My mom was told that they’ve done a couple of procedures to fix macular degeneration. While it may not be able to help her in her lifetime, it will hopefully work and be there for future generations. πŸ™‚

  5. A lovely, happy story! Thanks for sharing Sheila πŸ™‚

  6. Oh, Sheila, this is excellent news! My mom was born with cataracts and way back when, they removed the lenses from eyes. She wore coke-bottle glasses. When the surgery for lens implants came around, she signed up, nervous nonetheless. She knew what it was like to be barely able to see. What if she couldn’t see at all afterwards?

    She had both eyes done and truly felt like she had a miracle.

    • Vicki, I didn’t know people could be born with cataracts. How lovely that she was able to get the implants done and how wonderful that she was finally able to see the world with clear vision. πŸ™‚

  7. Karen McFarland

    Oh Sheila, you made me cry! I am so happy for your sweet mother. What a relief! This is HUGE news! Thank you so much for sharing this information. Oh how our eyesight is precious to us. And now your mother can see! I’m so happy for you and your family Sheila! πŸ™‚

    • Those of us with good vision take it for granted. When I watch my mother, I wonder what it would be like not to be able to read. I simply can’t imagine a life without books in it, can you, Karen? How truly blessed she is to have gotten this done and to have had her eyesight improved. πŸ™‚

  8. I’m so happy of your mom! My father had macular degeneration, so I have this terrible fear it could happen to me. So I make sure to get as much beta carotene in my diet as possible. Lovely and moving post, Sheila πŸ™‚

    • Not sure if I’m talking to Alicia or Roy. LOL! But I know exactly how you feel. It’s scary, but fortunately they’re working on a cure and hopefully it will be there when we need it. πŸ™‚

  9. 84 years young. my goodness. My dad is 86 and he just got a hip replacement (from about 20 years ago) REPAIRED. I didn’t even know that was possible. And I didn’t know that this eye condition could be helped by cataract surgery.

    Yes, it is amazing what can be done these days. And also very amazing how brave these eighty-year-olds are to try something new to improve their lives.

    As usual, Storyteller Sheila – wonderfully written. All the best to your mom!

  10. Darn it all, Sheila. I started to cry when I read this. How perfectly beautiful your story was and it was indeed like a miracle !!! Since you already read about my brother, I’ll tell you what we never tell anyone. He had an accident and lost vision in one eye when he was twelve. They told him he would not have any depth perception. He was twelve and already a budding artist (before I was born) and he told them. The hell I won’t. He has had two scares with the good eye, but refused to slow down.

    When people talk about these things I always think of him. Five years ago an eye doctor told me I was developing a catarac. He was shocked because of my age. Then three days ago I had two frights. I started seeing double (like a split screen). After I checked with google and made an appointment I found out that cataracs can cause split vision.

    I admire people who push through with problems like these … like Tracy and your mom. Your mom is so courageous to take that risk. Mine is a simple solution. Eventually I’ll need catarac surgery. But with my brother, your mom and Tracy there is little that can be done but pray for technology to catch up to them. I am so glad it did for her and for you πŸ™‚

    • Florence, thanks for sharing your brother’s story. I’m in awe of him for overcoming this difficulty so he could follow his dream to paint. That he didn’t listen to the people who told him he couldn’t is totally awesome. πŸ™‚

      I hope your split-screen vision is nothing more than the cataracts. My thoughts and prayers will be with you while you get this checked out. Take care of those eyes!

  11. What a beautiful story, Sheila. And what a joyous thing for your mother, to be able to read again! I’ve always counted that one of the greatest blessings.

  12. I have chills, Sheila. In fact, I had to come back and read this post a second time. πŸ™‚ Big hugs to you and your mother. May her enhanced sight bring her loads of joy.

  13. Hurray for your Mom! Wow, to get her sight improved is such a blessing! I can’t imagine what it must be like to know you could be blind one day. Your mom is a courageous woman! So happy for her!

  14. Wow. Great story. Will pass it along. And yes, my mom had the cataract procedure done too and is VERY happy with her results.

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